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The Agile Alliance’s annual conference is dedicated to exploring, innovating, and advancing Agile values and priniciples, and creating a space for people and ideas to flourish. The Agile20XX conference brings Agile communities together year after year to share experiences and make new connections — and this year we’ll be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, as well as Agile Alliance’s 20th birthday! Join passionate Agilists from around the world to learn about the latest practices, ideas, and strategies in Agile software development from the world’s leading experts, change agents, and innovators.

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No Estimates at Scale in the US Federal Government

by Adam Parker

Almost everyone says that they REALLY REALLY want to receive feedback; so why does it feel like we hardly ever get meaningful, constructive feedback at the point in time when it would actually make a difference? Why do we come up with a list of reasons why we should just let something go so that we can avoid having to deliver feedback ourselves? For many of us, the giving of feedback can feel like an awkward and uncomfortable task. And it’s because we avoid it whenever possible that we don’t improve these skills and we miss out on opportunities to help ourselves, our teammates, and our Agile teams grow.

In this interactive workshop, we hope to reduce anxiety around delivering feedback. First, briefly review some feedback anti-patterns, then introduce several different frameworks and approaches that you can use to prepare and organize your feedback. Then, since the best way to improve our skills is through deliberate practice, we’ll break out into pairs to practice together through a series of exercises in a fun and safe setting. We’ll swap roles as we go so that everyone has an equal opportunity to practice giving and receiving feedback.

If you are looking to improve your personal feedback skills, searching for ways to help your team become more open and willing to share feedback with each other, or interested in how simple practice and exercises can improve learning and build up skills, then this session is for you!

When conversations about improving our backlog refinement ceremony started, we had no intention of getting rid of points. We did not set out to prove or disprove the #NoEstimates debates waged on social media. “We” were the three teams of E-Verify Modernization (EVE-MOD) product group. E-Verify is web-based system offered by US Citizenship and Immigration Services – an agency under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security. An experiment had barely gotten underway for refinement before our whole landscape shifted. Our planned work became overwhelmed by mid-sprint interruptions and decisions made in sprint planning became moot within hours. We had to act fast, so we stopped all work for one entire day. We held a workshop offsite to decide how to re-design our approach to work. Beginning the very next day, our teams switched to Kanban. And with the unrelenting stream of incoming work, we also decided to stop the practice of estimating work and thus began EVE-MOD’s NoEstimates journey. In this session, you will also learn how EVE-MOD adapted refinement conversations, how NoEstimates continued after a transition back to Scrum, why we eventually returned to estimating, and what this agilist learned during this unique 12-month experience in the US Federal Government.